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Uncertainty remains over revised UCI calendar dates

Deceuninck-QuickStep's Julian Alaphilippe wins the 2019 Milan-San Remo. Will the 2020 edition move from early August to later in the month?
Deceuninck-QuickStep's Julian Alaphilippe wins the 2019 Milan-San Remo. Will the 2020 edition move from early August to later in the month? (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The UCI's revised 2020 calendar – forced by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic – remains a work in progress with a number of changes still possible due to doubts about the possibility of racing in different countries and the organisation of the more complex events. 

According to the latest reports, Milan-San Remo could be moved from August 8 to August 22, replacing the national championships weekend, with Il Lombardia potentially moving from late October to take Milan-San Remo's early August slot.  

Some uncertainty remains over the venue for September's World Championships – although proposed-host Switzerland's government may make a decision on public events on Wednesday, with French newspaper L'Equipe claiming the World Championships will stay in Aigle-Martigny, close to the UCI headquarters. 

However if Switzerland decides it is impossible to organise a major sporting event in late September, the Giro d'Italia could use the week in the calendar to move the Corsa Rosa forward and so avoid an overlap with the Vuelta a Espana and a final weekend clash with Paris-Roubaix. 

Two weeks ago, the Italian cycling federation had already proposed August dates for Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia in order to free up the latter's scheduled October 31 slot to make space for the national championships.

According to Het Nieuwsblad on Tuesday, a number of professional teams are supporting the possibility of Milan-San Remo moving from its current rescheduled slot of August 8 to August 22 – a week before the start of the Tour de France (August 29-September 20).

That would mean only a one-hour drive from San Remo to the Tour's Grand Départ in Nice, reducing travel time and distance for riders during the current, and likely ongoing, health situation.

Similarly, Il Lombardia would take Milan-San Remo's August 8 slot, and would therefore take place just a week after Strade Bianche (August 1), which will attract similar types of riders for both races, with Strade Bianche's finish town of Siena, in Tuscany, separated from Il Lombardia's start in Bergamo by less than four hours by road.

However, a new spanner works is the news that the UEC Road European Championships – originally scheduled for September in Trentino, Italy but now postponed until 2021 at the same venue – may be able to take place for 2020 in Plouay, in Brittany, France, in the week leading up to the Tour de France, which would put paid to riders wishing to take part being able to go straight to the Tour start in Nice from San Remo.

When announcing the full race calendars on May 19, the UCI said any changes to the WorldTour calendar would be confirmed after the Professional Cycling Council and UCI Management Committee meetings held respectively on 9 and 10 June. 

If the Swiss government decides to allow bigger crowd sizes and so the 2020 UCI Road World Championships in Aigle-Martigny between September 20-27, the game of musical chairs will become a lot clearer.  

An alternative Middle East location has been mooted for the World Championships, with a possible date in November after the Vuelta a Espana but that throws up a strong of other problems and has sparked memories when teams were placed in quarantine after cases of COVID-19 emerged at the UAE Tour in February.  

Lotto Soudal team manager John Lelangue told Het Laatste Nieuws on Tuesday that while he hopes Switzerland will be able to host the Worlds, he has concerns as to whether riders from outside Europe will be permitted to leave their countries to take part. 

"What about, for example, South, North and Central America, which are all currently having a difficult time [with the virus]? Can you travel here from those countries? And what about from Africa? You can hardly organise a World Championships that's only for European riders," asked Lelangue.